Fastbreak: Ole Miss edges Florida 72-71 in Oxford

A season on the brink may have very well reached it on Saturday evening as the Florida Gators (10-9, 3-3 SEC) gave up multiple leads and ultimately fell 72-71 to the Ole Miss Rebels (12-7, 3-3 SEC) at the Tad Smith Coliseum in Oxford, Mississippi.

Florida has now lost three-straight games for the first time since the end of the 2011-12 regular season, and the Gators are on pass to miss both the NCAA Tournament and NIT.

“I thought this as a microcosm of how little room for error there is,” Donovan said. “That really just goes to show you how hard it will be for us unless we can really, really, really become a very, very disciplined, connected team, because we just break down.”

OnlyGators.com breaks down Saturday’s action with 10 quick-hitters:

It was over when: A 6-0 stretch for the Gators put them ahead of the Rebels 69-65 with 2:52 to play. However, Ole Miss ended its 4:08 field goal drought with a mid-range jumper at 1:54 on the clock and scored five-straight to retake the lead at 70-69 with 31 seconds left. Florida junior guard Michael Frazier II stepped up to make two free throws that pushed UF ahead 71-70 with 9.8 seconds remaining, but the Gators fouled on the other end and Jarvis Summers made two of his own to give the Rebels back a 72-21 lead with 3.5 seconds left. The final play of the game belonged to UF sophomore point guard Kasey Hill, who caught the ball in the backcourt and attempted to not only drive the length of the floor but finish with a reverse layup; he failed with the buzzer going off before the ball even left his hands.

“Kasey has got to recognize, three-and-a-half seconds, you got to get a shot up,” Donovan said. “You just got to stop and shoot the ball. He could have taken it to the free throw line and got that shot up. His speed got him to that point, which was good, but he obviously probably took it a bit too far.”

Significant stretches: Ole Miss took its first substantial lead of the game at 53-46 on the back of an explosive 13-0 run; the streak included three-straight triples for the Rebels and five consecutive missed shots by the Gators, all occurring in a span of less than three minutes. UF responded with an extended 11-4 stretch to tie the contest at 57 with 7:30 to play, and the team’s traded leads for the duration of the game.

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Fastbreak: Florida takes down Auburn 75-55

Updated on Friday at 1:30 p.m.

Florida Gators basketball (10-6, 3-0 SEC) continued its upward momentum by winning its third-straight in Southeastern Conference play with a 75-55 victory over the Auburn Tigers (9-7, 1-2 SEC) on Thursday evening at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida. The win was Florida’s 21th consecutive regular-season victory in SEC play and 19th-straight home win against a league opponent dating back to Jan. 9, 2013.

OnlyGators.com breaks down Thursday’s action with 10 quick-hitters:

It was over when: After seeing its lead cut in half from 20 to 10 due to a 10-0 Auburn run (see below), Florida scored six points on three-straight possessions in just 1:13 to increase its advantage to 16 points and hold on for the victory.

Significant stretches: The Gators opened the second half with a 10-3 scoring stretch, extending their advantage and taking a game-high 24-point lead on the Tigers. Spanning the half, Auburn went 9:53 without netting a field goal, allowing Florida to build on its 17-point halftime lead. AU would not be denied, however, turning three-straight UF turnovers into three-pointers with a 10-0 run that cut its deficit to 10 with five minutes to play.

“I think our team is getting better. We’re not there. There’s an immaturity, a lack of understanding,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “We’re up 19 points, we have three empty possessions and they make three-straight threes. All of a sudden the lead goes from 19 to 10 and they’re looking around like, ‘What happened?!’ They have no concept how quickly it can change.”

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Fastbreak: Florida slides by South Carolina 72-68

Florida Gators basketball (8-6, 1-0 SEC) bounced back from a tough end to its non-conference slate to earn a closer-than-it-should-have-been 72-68 victory over the surging South Carolina Gamecocks (9-4, 0-1 SEC) on Wednesday evening at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, South Carolina.

“The thing that was encouraging to me was I felt like we battled and fought as a group, collectively together as a team. For me, that was a step in the right direction for this group,” head coach Billy Donovan said after the victory.

OnlyGators.com breaks down Wednesday’s action with 10 quick-hitters:

It was over when: Leading by five with less than a minute to play, redshirt senior forward Jacob Kurtz hit two clutch free throws to push Florida ahead by seven. South Carolina responded with a corner three by Mindaugas Kacinas to cut its deficit to four with 34.1 remaining, and Kacinas hit another trey – following two free throws from redshirt junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith – to make it a three-point game. Junior guard Michael Frazier II then stepped up to hit two free throws to increase his team’s lead to five only to see freshman point guard Chris Chiozza foul the Gamecocks on a made layup, cutting UF’s advantage to two with 6.4 seconds left. Redshirt junior G Eli Carter was the last Florida player at the line, solidifying his team’s lead at four points with two made free throws; Kacinas missed another triple attempt at the buzzer. The Gators went 8-for-8 from the charity stripe over the final 43 seconds.

Significant stretch: Struggling early in the second half, Florida took advantage of a seven-minute field goal drought for South Carolina with a 13-2 run started by a game-tying triple from Frazier. The Gators used a trey by Finney-Smith and three free throws to take a 54-46 lead with less than nine minutes to play. UF held on to that advantage for most of the remainder of the game.

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The Silver Lining: ‘Inconsistent’ Florida Gators struggling to find themselves as SEC play begins

The schedule has been difficult, but Florida Gators (7-6) basketball is off to its worst start since the 1996-97 season, head coach Billy Donovan’s first at the helm of the program and a campaign in which Florida started with the same record through 13 games and finished the season 13-17.

While it is quite unlikely that the Gators end 2014-15 with a sub-.500 record, Florida is not trending upward like many expected now that its roster is at full strength.

“I don’t really look at the record as much as much as how we’re playing,” Donovan said Monday.

Well, UF is not playing well either. And he is quite aware.

The Gators do not have a signature non-conference win despite a 13-game slate filled with tough opponents. Florida is 210th nationally in scoring, 177th in rebounding, 131st in assists and one of the worst in the country in both getting to the charity stripe and making free throws once there.

Simply put, there is not much going right for the Gators, which went from undeserved preseason No. 7 to a team that is no longer even garnering votes in the top 25 polls. No ranked opponent has more than three losses; UF has double that many with five of six coming in single-digit defeats.

Florida is floundering in every facet of the game except defense, and Donovan knows exactly why.

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Fastbreak: Jacob Kurtz miscue sends Florida State to 65-63 victory over Florida Gators

Florida Gators basketball (7-5) saw its five-game winning streak over the in-state rival Florida State Seminoles (8-5) come to an end on Tuesday night at the Donald L. Tucker Center in Tallahassee, Florida.

A miscue by one Florida player with less than a second to go cost the Gators a well-deserved overtime after they fought back from a five-point deficit with less than two minutes to play. The Seminoles triumphed 65-63 at home.

OnlyGators.com breaks down Tuesday’s action with 10 quick-hitters:

It was over when: With the game tied at 54, Florida missed three consecutive baskets down the stretch and Florida State guard Devon Bookert drained a dagger three-pointer with 1:29 remaining to push the Seminoles ahead of the Gators 59-54. However, Florida fought its way back to tie the contest at 63, ending a 9-3 stretch with an alley-oop layup by redshirt junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith. The Gators would eventually fall in the contest, however, as redshirt senior walk-on F Jacob Kurtz – hoping to corral an offensive rebound on a Seminoles miss with less than a second to play – accidentally tipped in an air-ball for what became FSU’s game-winning basket.

“I’ve been doing this for a long, long time, been in a lot of games, and I’ve never seen anything like that in my life. My heart goes out to him because he really tried to make the right play. One of the things you worry about in that situation, with three seconds, is a quick shot and then obviously an opportunity for them to offensive rebound. I think he made an aggressive play,” head coach Billy Donovan said after the game.

“I think that play is probably going to be talked about, but if it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t have been in the game. He did a lot of great things and even early in the game, when we got down, we put him in the game, the lead changed; the second half, the same thing happened. I feel bad the game ended like that. I told him he needs to move past that because he tried to make the right play.”

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Fastbreak: Yale fails at Florida, Gators win 85-47

Florida Gators basketball (4-4) got back to .500 on the season in dominating fashion, obliterating the Yale Bulldogs (8-3) on Monday evening at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida.

Florida beat Yale 85-47 and held a 49-point lead during the contest, winning both halves with ease while potentially turning a corner after a rough start to the season.

OnlyGators.com breaks down Monday’s action with eight quick-hitters:

It was over when/significant stretch: The second half began. Already leading by 26 coming out of the break, Florida extended its advantage to 35 with an 11-2 run to open the latter period. A pair of threes from redshirt junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith, plus another from junior guard Michael Frazier II, gave UF its large advantage, which it would be expanded to 49 with 7:14 to play.

First half focus: Combining a pair of long runs, Florida broke out of the doldrums with a 24-8 scoring stretch over the final 7:21 of the first 20 minutes to lead 46-20 at the break. Frazier was 6-for-8 from the field and 3-for-5 from downtown for 15 points in the opening period, while redshirt senior forward Jacob Kurtz was 4-for-4 for eight points of his own. UF started 2-of-8 from the floor but made 19 of its final 24 shots.

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Battle 4 Atlantis Fastbreak: No. 18 Florida outlasts UAB 56-47, will face No. 5 North Carolina

Another poor shooting performance put No. 18 Florida Gators basketball (3-2) in a tough position on Thursday evening against the UAB Blazers (2-4). However, in the end, Florida used an extensive game-ending scoring stretch to outlast UAB 56-47 in the loser’s bracket of the 2014 Battle 4 Atlantis at the Imperial Arena in Paradise Island, Bahamas.

OnlyGators.com breaks down Thursday’s action with eight quick-hitters:

It was over when: Trailing by two with four minutes to play, Florida took off with four-straight free throws, a driving layup by sophomore point guard Kasey Hill and a dunk by redshirt junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith (following a block by redshirt senior center Jon Horford) to take a 53-47 lead. The Gators would extend their half-ending run to 11-0 as the Blazers failed to make a field goal (0-for-6) over the final 6:21 of the contest.

Significant stretch: The Gators went 1-for-11 from the field as the Blazers made 6-of-7 shots from the floor and went on a 9-2 run to jump ahead 43-41 with 8:44 left in the game. Florida would retake the lead shortly thereafter, but the run put UAB back in the contest and kept things close most of the second half.

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak…after the break.
Continue Reading » Battle 4 Atlantis Fastbreak: No. 18 Florida outlasts UAB 56-47, will face No. 5 North Carolina

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Battle 4 Atlantis Fastbreak: Georgetown takes down No. 18 Florida 66-65 on late jumper in OT

A fast-paced, back-and-forth overtime period included plenty of ties and lead changes, the last of which was the Georgetown Hoyas (4-0) hitting a late jumper to edge the No. 18 Florida Gators (2-2) in the opening round of the 2014 Battle 4 Atlantis at Imperial Arena in Paradise Island, Bahamas.

Georgetown pulled off a 66-65 victory by making eight of its last nine field goals starting at 6:36 in the second half and ending with three seconds to play in the contest. Florida moved in to the loser’s bracket following its defeat.

OnlyGators.com breaks down Wednesday’s action with nine quick-hitters:

It was over when (overtime edition, again): After Paul White drained a triple to put Georgetown up four with 2:04 to play, Florida pushed ahead with a 6-1 run including a tip-in layup by redshirt senior center Jon Horford, a dunk and layup by redshirt junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith and a steal by redshirt junior guard Eli Carter (which created Finney-Smith’s layup). A clutch three-pointer by the Hoyas’ L.J. Peak put Georgetown up 64-62 with 30 seconds left, but sophomore point guard Kasey Hill responded out of a timeout by driving the lane and completing an old-school three-point play to push Florida ahead by one. It would not be enough, however, as D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera drained a jumper with three seconds remaining to send Georgetown to a one-point victory.

Prominent players: Smith-Rivera hit 7-of-14 shots for a game-high 17 points despite playing with four fouls in overtime. For the Gators, Finney-Smith led the way with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting even though he only played 28 minutes in the contest. He was also third on Florida’s roster with six rebounds.

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak…after the break.
Continue Reading » Battle 4 Atlantis Fastbreak: Georgetown takes down No. 18 Florida 66-65 on late jumper in OT

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